Sunday, April 07, 2013

A Divine Mercy


Jesus, "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself..."
- Philippians 2:6-8 

One of my favorite images that speaks to the Divine Mercy of our God is this work by the French artist Gustave Dore. It captures that stupendous act of self-emptying, of kenosis, that St. Paul speaks of in the letter to the Philippians. This is what mercy looks like; misericordia, literally "the heart that suffers with." Mercy touches us, embraces us, especially in our brokenness, our shame, our wounds. The Hebrew word is "hesed" - God's merciful, loving kindness. This tender compassion of Jesus for us all is amplified all the more in Dore's image by the stoic detachment of the Pharisees, whom one can imagine are the men standing in the background to the right of Jesus. Cool, aloof, perhaps even annoyed at what the Christ is doing, they stand in judgement. They have "set themselves apart" (which is what the term pharisee means) from these "unclean" people in an attempt to be holy, to be "kadosh" or different from sinners. But is this the kind of love Christ calls us to? Is this even love at all? To love is to suffer with another, to rejoice with another, to be present to another, and to put their needs ahead of ones own. And this was Christ's life. This is the Divine Mercy! Mercy is to move into the heart and experience of another. To pour oneself out and to become the gift to another. As we gaze on Christ the Healer in this beautiful woodcut, let us plead for the grace to make this leap of love and mercy ourselves. Out of our own heads, and into another's heart!


For the original image, click here:  http://catholic-resources.org/Dore/Matt15a.jpg
For more about Gustave Dore, the artist and his works, click here:  http://catholic-resources.org/Art/Dore.htm

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